Howard Douglas McCurdy was born on December 10, 1932 and died on February 20, 2018.
He was a Canadian civil rights activist, politician and university professor.
McCurdy moved to Amherstburg, Ontario when he was 9 and encountered racism for the first time when he tried to join the Cub Scouts and was excluded, being told to form a Black-only troop. McCurdy was a student at the University of Western Ontario, where he received a Bachelor of Arts, and later at Assumption University, where he received a Bachelor of Science.
McCurdy was awarded a Master of Science and a Ph.D. in microbiology and chemistry from Michigan State University. McCurdy has also served for a time as Michigan State University’s president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which he founded.
During 1959, McCurdy was apart of the Biology Department at Assumption College (later the University of Windsor) and became the first person of African descent to hold a tenure track position in a Canadian university. He was Department Head from 1974 to 1979.
In 1976–80 he founded and was President of the Canadian College of Microbiologists.
McCurdy authored more than 50 scientific papers and served on the editorial boards of Bacteriological Reviews and the Canadian Journal of Microbiology. In 1967–68 he was president of the Canadian Association of University Teachers.
In 1962 he founded the Guardian Club a civil rights organization to fight racial discrimination in Windsor.
During 1969, he was a founder and the first President of the National Black Coalition of Canada. His speech at the NDP’s founding convention is credited with choosing the name New Democratic Party.
During 1979, McCurdy was elected alder man in the city of Windsor and served two terms until he was elected as the New Democratic MP for the riding of Windsor Walkerville in the federal election of 1984, to become Canada’ second Black MP, and the first Black NDP MP.
During the 1988 election he was reelected in the renamed riding of Windsor— St. Clair, where he served until his defeat in the 1993 federal election.
McCurdy was also a candidate for the party leadership in the 1989 leadership convention which selected Audrey McLaughlin.
He campaigned for the Ontario New Democratic Party nomination in Windsor—Sandwich in the build-up to the 1995 provincial election, but was unexpectedly defeated by Arlene Rousseau.
McCurdy had been endorsed by Premier Bob Rae, while Rousseau was an ally of party dissidents such as Peter Kormos. During 2003, he supported Bill Blaikie’s campaign for NDP leader.
He died on February 20, 2018 at the age of 85. McCurdy was survived by his wife, four children, and 10 grandchildren